Misleading Photos Used To Justify Blasphemy Laws

A Nigerian Twitter user, My Deen My Swag, has shared some misleading pictures to defend the death penalty for blasphemy in some states in Northern Nigeria where Sharia (Islamic canonical law) applies.

“Whether they steal food or phone, they don’t deserve to be burnt to dead. They burn people even for stealing N50 to dead [sic], but drag Islam & Kano Sharia Court sentencing an Artist to dead [sic] penalty for blasphemy. We don’t play with Prophet Muhammad. RT let them see their hypocrisy” he tweeted via his handle @AM_Saleeem on Tuesday. 

My Deen My Swag’s tweet, which was shared over a thousand times,  was a reaction to the decision of an Upper Sharia Court in Kano which, on Monday, sentenced Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, a musician, to death for circulating a song, deemed blasphemous to Prophet Mohammed, on WhatsApp.

The sentencing triggered an outcry on social media, with many condemning the capital punishment. On the other hand,  some backers of the Sharia law justified the decision of the court.

One of those in support of the judgement is Saleeem who attached two pictures to his tweet: one showing two young boys who had been stripped naked, tied, and placed in a big truck tire, and the second showing an object burning beside a tarred road. He seemed to suggest that they show lynching incidents that occurred in non-sharia states in Nigeria because the victims stole some money.

Checks show, however, that while the pictures are genuine, the contexts were misplaced. While the first incident took place in Kenya, the second was not retribution for “stealing N50”.

Checking the first picture

Our searches revealed that in one of the earliest postings of the picture of the boys, Yetunde Morenikeji Ajani Raji, on August 8, shared it on Facebook.

Raji, in her caption, copied word-for-word a report from Nairobi News published earlier on July 5. Nairobi News reported that the boys were “burnt alive in Komarock Estate after they were caught stealing mobile phones from a member of the public”.

“They removed part of the motorcycle, bought petrol and used it to end the lives of the two young boys,” one witness had narrated to the news website.

Copying directly from Raji, Femi Fani-Kayode, a Nigerian politician, shared the pictures on his verified Facebook page, where it was then picked up by the Linda Ikeji Blog as well as other local websites.

Our check shows that the first picture, depicting an entirely different incident, was taken in Kenya and not any part of Nigeria.

No link to sharia

Through a reverse search on Yandex, HumAngle traced the second image in Saleeem’s tweet to a news report published on December 18, 2018, by Wuzup Nigeria, which contains other pictures from a lynching incident. Wuzup Nigeria referenced the Nation Newspaper as source.


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